Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Lion deaths: HC asks amicus curiae for suggestions

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Europe offers last line of defence for the Asiatic lion

There are close to 150 captive Asiatic lions in Europe.
The recent death of 23 Asiatic lions in India – including three from the highly contagious Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) – has highlighted the risk of confining the species to a small part of the country. In a worst-case scenario, can captive animals in European countries like Switzerland help re-establish the species? 
It is lunch time and the suburban neighbourhood of Zurichberg reverberates with the guttural call of a male lion. A 20-minute tram ride from Zurich’s main station, Zoo Zurichexternal link is by far the biggest attraction here, especially during the school holidays. Visitors flock to the lion enclosure, drawn to the sounds of the king of the jungle.

A crowd favourite at the zoo

The Zurich zoo has four Asiatic lions: A 13-year-old male, a 15-year-old female and their two female cubs aged nine and eight.
The four lions – one male and three females – do not belong to the African savannah but to deciduous forests of Gujarat state in northwestern India. Just over 600 Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) in the Gir Protected Area and surrounding region are all that is left of the wild Asiatic lion. The species once ranged from Greece in the west to India in the east but is now confined to a corner of an Indian state. Despite several proposals to relocate a few animals to other parts of the country, including an order from the Supreme Court in 2013, Gujarat has refused to part with “its lions”. It is a decision that could prove costly for the species.
Within a span of two weeks in September, 23 lions died in the Gir forest. Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) was detected in five of 24 samples tested, which indicated at least three of the dead lions were infected. Further testing of 80 samples from 27 lions that were placed under observation at the nearby Sakkarbaug Zoo revealed that 21 animals had tested positive for CDV.
“This indicates active disease transmission among the Gir lions,” confirmed a statement from the Indian Council of Medical Research on October 9.
This could have a serious impact on the population if history repeats itself. In 1994, an outbreak of CDV in the Serengeti in Tanzania decimated a third of the lions there.
“When you only have a small population of Asiatic lions it would be a great risk to the survival of the species if a third were wiped out,” Robert Zingg of Zoo Zurich told
According to him, the relatively large number of lions in a small area means the risk of spread is high as more interactions are likely.

Buffer population

Zingg is a strong advocate of creating a second population of Asiatic lions in India. The Zurich zoo had financially supported attempts to develop a second home for the lions in the Kuno wildlife sanctuary in central India. Funds sent by the zoo were used to create an inventory of plants and animals in the sanctuary. Six years on, Kuno still hasn’t received any lions despite being deemed a suitable habitat for the big cats.
“In a country with so many people, every place prepared for wildlife should be used. It is not easy to find large enough spaces to establish a certain number of lions,” says Zingg.
Apart from disease, Zingg is worried about the fact that many of the lions in Gujarat live near villages where people graze livestock. He is afraid that people will retaliate if lions kill many cattle or even attack people.
Zurich zoo was one of three zoos – along with London and Helsinki – lucky enough to obtain pure Asiatic lions in the 1990s from the Sakkarbaug Zoo in Gujarat. A pair named Bhagirath and Mena were a gift to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the founding of Switzerland. Along with the London and Helsinki zoos, Zurich’s launched a European breeding programme and two decades later, 43 European zoos have a total of almost 150 Asiatic lions.


Captive lions stats
“The programme was so successful that today, it is difficult to find places for the lions. So we do not breed any more at the moment,” says Zingg.
The females have a hormonal implant that prevents them from getting into oestrus. If called upon, the zoo is capable of resuming the breeding programme. But there is a slight hitch. The breeding female was born in 2003 and her age makes it uncertain she could have any cubs. The two younger females are the progeny of the current male, hence no breeding is possible. The zoo will have to exchange its females for another male to make it work. This is where cooperation with India is required.
“They can help us in ensuring the zoo populations in Europe are genetically healthy. This would mean that additional animals are sent from India to European zoos when necessary,” says Zingg.
The Indian authorities have said that they don’t have enough animals to send to Europe but suggested artificial insemination instead. According to Zingg, this method is difficult to implement successfully, and it is much easier to exchange animals. 

Swiss lions in wild?

While it is the responsibility of zoos to have animals that are genetically sound, can they really offer the possibility of re-establishing a big cat species that has been lost in the wild?
“The zoo populations of lions and all big cats are relatively robust and serve as a backstop from extinction – but the priority must be in ensuring the wild populations like the Gir lions stay safe,” says Doug Cress, CEO of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariumsexternal link (WAZA).
That said, Cress underlines the role of zoos in the successful re-establishment of species that almost went extinct in the wild like the California condor, Black-foot ferret, Corroboree frog and the Golden Lion tamarin. Captive animals have acquired greater importance when evaluating the overall chances of survival of a species.
“Any population of wild animals could be re-established through the captive populations cared for in zoos and aquariums, and that is one reason the IUCN Red List of Threatened Speciesexternal link will now include captive populations when assessing the extinction threat levels for species,” says Cress.
Despite the sufficient numbers it is notoriously difficult to re-establish big cats from zoos into the wild. A ten-year old studyexternal link that examined over 45 attempts at re-establishing carnivores including cheetahs and tigers found that the success rate of projects using captive-born animals was a mere 13% compared to 31% from wild-caught animals.
The lions at the Zurich zoo have managed to kill birds like herons that entered their enclosure, but their hunting skills are not good enough to survive in the wild. Zingg estimates that it will take two generations to create animals that have these skills to transmit to their offspring – a process that would require sacrificing a lot of prey animals.
Depending on how India copes with CDV crisis, it might not come to that.
“It is important to be aware that when you are the only country with a species you have a great responsibility,” says Zingg.

The king of the jungle battles for survival

By Anand Chandrasekhar
iTunes MP3 file
The last population of the Asiatic lion is under threat from a virus outbreak. Can Switzerland come to the rescue?

MP seeks Centre's help to get lions from Gujarat

| Jan 28, 2019, 09:44 IST
NEW DELHI: The Madhya Pradesh government has sought Centre's help in getting Asiatic lions from Gujarat's Gir which has been delayed by over five years despite a Supreme Court order, according to official documents. In a letter to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, it said the state forest department and Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) feel that the process of shifting of the lions can be started immediately.

Hence, it is requested to issue necessary direction for the shifting of lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, the letter said. A copy of the letter was received in response to an RTI query filed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey. The Gujarat government, however, has maintained that it would wait for completion of studies as per the relocation guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) before releasing the lions, according to the communique.

The Supreme Court had in April 2013 directed shifting of some lions from Gir to Madhya Pradesh by October of that year, saying the species "should have a second home to save it from extinction, due to catastrophes like epidemic, large forest fire, etc". Gujarat has been opposing Madhya Pradesh's request of seeking lions from it.

The Madhya Pradesh government had chosen Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Sheopur district of Gwalior division as a second home for over 500 Asiatic lions. But not a single lion has been shifted so far. According to other documents accessed by Dubey through RTI, about Rs 14.84 crore has been spent by the Madhya Pradesh government in translocation of 1,543 families from 24 villages of the area to pave way for lions entry into the sanctuary.

"The central government must issue a direction to ensure that lions from Gir are shifted to MP at the earliest," Dubey said. The matter of shifting of lions had cropped up in a meeting, which was attended by representatives of Gujarat and MP governments besides a renowned wildlife scientist, in September last year. In the meeting, the scientist had said Palpur-Kuno is ready to accommodate 40 lions from Gujarat. PTI

3 lion cubs survive 6 vulnerable months

CHANDIGARH: Three Asiatic lion cubs in Rohtak zoo are growing bigger and healthier. They have survived the vulnerable six -month period, and have begun showing signs of wildness. One female and two males were born to a pair of Asiatic Gir lions in Pipli zoo, who were brought from Junagarh in Gujarat in December 2015.

Deputy conservator of forest (wildlife) Deepak Alwadhi told TOI, “All three have begun taking minced chicken diet of 2.3kg every day, as per the norms set by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA). They are also growing to become mature and wild, and showing related signs. The male cub has started roaring, expressing his aggression and dominance.”

The cubs were named by forest minister Rao Narbir Singh. Two of them are called Arjun and Gita, a reference to Mahabharat, as they were born in Pipli zoo situated in Kurukshetra, the land where the battle of Mahabharat was fought. The third one was named after local MLA Sudha. Later, they were transferred to Rohtak zoo, as the cubs could face problems due to the presence of rats at the former zoo, besides the issue of space constraint, said Alwadhi.

The officials remain in touch with lion experts from Gir for consultation. “In this biting cold, when the temperature plummets to 7-8°C at night, we are using heaters to maintain the temperature of Gir, which ranges between 18-30°C during winter. In the daytime, they are taken out to bask in the sunshine,” he said.

Chief wildlife warden VS Tanwar said, “It is for the first time the lion cubs survived in Haryana after birth. Two out of the five cubs died due to paralysis. These three too had low immunity for not being fed their mother’s milk as she was not lactating. She didn’t even lick them for 24 hours and discarded them.”

Man climbs into lion enclosure in Indian zoo and gets brutally mauled to death by two big cats

With four big cats in the compound, the man, said to be around 25 years old, climbed a 20-foot barrier at the zoo before he descended on to the grass and was fatally attacked

Tourists at Chhatbir Zoo in Punjab, India, watched in horror as a man was mauled to death after climbing into a lion enclosure at the zoo.
With four big cats in the compound, the unidentified man, said to be around 25 years old, climbed a 20-foot barrier at Chhatbir Zoo before he descended on to the grass and was fatally attacked by two of them, the New York Post reports.
Upon hearing the man's haunting screams, zoo staff rushed to the man's rescue. However, their efforts were in vain as he was taken down by one of the lions.
According to staff, Shilpa, a lioness, held the victim by his neck while Yuvraj, a male lion, clamped his massive jaws around the man's head. One of the lions is seen in recent footage dragging the victim around like a rag doll within the enclosure.
Tourists tried to help the zoo staff in luring the animals away by honking their car horns. However, their combined efforts proved futile.
Punjab Wildlife Chief Dr. Kuldeep Kumar said, "The man climbed the [20-foot high] boundary wall right adjacent to the Ghaggar River. Our patrolling team saw him at the top. They tried to engage him in talk and make him come down. However, he jumped inside."
According to him, Shilpa and Yuvraj were released from their cages so that tourists could have a better experience with the beasts in a more natural environment. "Lionesses have a very curious nature and Shilpa saw something falling from a great height inside their territory. [Shilpa] rushed to take look and found her prey. She instantly attacked the man, caught hold of his neck and then dragged him along," Kumar said.
A female Asiatic lioness at Gir Forest, Gujarat, India. (Wikipedia)
A female Asiatic lioness at Gir Forest, Gujarat, India. (Wikipedia)
Speaking to the Times of India, a zoo official later said, "The rescue team saw lioness Shilpa holding the man from the neck, while the lion Yuvraj, had got him by the head. As soon as the lions left him, our team pulled the man inside the bus."
The carnivores that attacked him were Asiatic lions, a critically endangered species known for their deadly ferocity. According to reports, only 500 of them are left in the wild, with most of them protected in the Gir Sanctuary in Gujarat.
While the victim's family is yet to be reached, the zoo has already stepped up caution inside the premises. Visitors are advised to always travel with a trained escort and adhere to instructions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Indian man killed by lion!

January 22, 2019

NEW DELHI: An Indian man was mauled to death by a lion after he scaled the wall of a zoo in northern Punjab state, officials said on Monday.
The man climbed the 20-foot wall of Chhatbir Zoo, home to four lions, on Sunday and entered the restricted area where he was attacked. Hearing his screams, the staff rushed to try and rescue the man.
"He was an intruder in the zoo. We took him to the hospital but he succumbed to his injuries," said Roshan Sunkaria from the state forest department.
The animal that attacked the man was an Asiatic lion -- a critically endangered species and a major tourist draw. Only around 500 exist in the wild, all in the Gir sanctuary in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
The authorities have not yet been able to contact the victim´s family. The zoo has stepped up warnings inside the premises and advised visitors to travel with an escort and keep vehicles locked.

Punjab man killed by Asiatic lion after scaling 20-foot zoo wall

The man climbed the 20-foot wall of Chhatbir Zoo, home to four lions, on Sunday and entered the restricted area where he was attacked.
Published: 21st January 2019 12:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2019 12:24 PM
Image of lions used for representational purpose only. (Shimoga Nandan | EPS)
NEW DELHI: A man was mauled to death by a lion after he scaled the wall of a zoo in Punjab state, officials said Monday.
A lion and lioness resting in shade in Shivamogga's Tyavarekoppa Lion and Tiger Safari. (Shimoga Nandan | EPS)The man climbed the 20-foot (six-metre) wall of Chhatbir Zoo, home to four lions, on Sunday and entered the restricted area where he was attacked.
Hearing his screams, the staff rushed to try and rescue the man.
"He was an intruder in the zoo. We took him to the hospital but he succumbed to his injuries," said Roshan Sunkaria from the state forest department.
The animal that attacked the man was an Asiatic lion -- a critically endangered species and a major tourist draw.

Man mauled to death inside zoo in India's northern state

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-21 16:07:20|Editor: xuxin
NEW DELHI, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- A man was mauled to death by lions inside a zoo in northern Indian state of Punjab, officials said Monday.
The incident took place inside Chhatbir Zoo, about 20 km west of Chandigarh, the capital city of Punjab.
"Yesterday in the afternoon, a man scaled the boundary wall which is around 30 feet high and jumped inside safari, an area meant for lions," M Sudhagarb, Chhatbir zoo's field director said. "Right inside there, he was mauled by the lions."
The zoo officials said his screams alerted the staff, who rushed to rescue the man.
"Though rescue teams immediately went inside and rushed him to the hospital, however he succumbed there," the official said.
The identity of the deceased person was not known.
Zoo officials said the man was attacked by an Asiatic lion, an endangered species.
As per the 2015 census, there were 520 lions in Gir forest in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
Following the incident the zoo was closed for visitors.
Authorities have kept the dead at civil hospital in Dera Bassi, Chandigarh, and were waiting for someone to claim it.
"Police have also advertised the body type, height and picture of the deceased man to help them get in touch with his family," a police official said.

Gujarat: PIL seeks lion conservation policy

dna Correspondent Updated: Jan 17, 2019, 06:45 AM IST
The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the state and union governments after public interest litigation (PIL) demanding the formation of a national level conservation authority for lions, like the one formed for tigers, came up for hearing.

LionThe PIL filed by Protection of Environment and Public Service Committee through its president Bhagwan Solanki was taken up by the division bench of Acting Chief Justice AS Dave and Justice Biren Vaishnav, which immediately issued a notice to the Centre and state directing them to file their reply in the matter by February 12.
Solanki has also sought the court's direction to the state and Centre to formulate a comprehensive long-term conservation policy for Asiatic Lions citing that the number of lions is less than the number of tigers in the country.
The petitioner has also appealed that the authorities should also frame a uniform policy and guidelines for tourism in the Gir forest area in accordance with the guidelines of the ministry of environment and forest. Sonanki has also sought a prohibition on the authorities from declaring any tourism zone within the core area of the Gir Sanctuary at Junagadh.
The petitioner has pointed out before the court that apart from Asiatic Lions, Gir is home to 38 mammalian species, more than 300 species of birds, and 37 species of herpetofauna, which necessitates the requirement for more sensitivity and protection to be accorded to the wildlife sanctuary.

Gujarat high court notice over tourism zone

| Updated: Jan 17, 2019, 07:22 IST
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court on Wednesday issued notice to the state government and the Centre over a PIL opposing a proposed tourism zone in the Girnar wildlife sanctuary in the interest of wildlife in the area, especially the Asiatic lions.

An NGO – Protection of Environment and Public Service Committee filed the PIL and sought the HC directions to the government authorities not to go ahead with the plan to create tourism zone in the sanctuary, for the proposed zone falls in the core zone of the sanctuary. This is against the provisions of existing wildlife protection laws and the guidelines issued by the government itself.

The PIL has urged the HC to direct the governments to create a national level conservation authority for lions and to frame appropriate policy for long-term conservation of the Asiatic lions. It wants a uniform policy for tourism in the Asiatic lion landscape in accordance with the 2011 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. It wants prohibition on declaration of any tourism zone within Girnar sanctuary.

The PIL has demanded that a national policy should be declared for lion conservation as has been successfully undertaken for tigers.

The petitioner claimed that the 178-sq-km Girnar sanctuary harbours 38 mammalian species, more than 300 species of birds and 37 species of herpetofauna. It is rich in biodiversity and any effort to create tourism zone will disturb wildlife.

Read more at:

Lion attacks pangolin in extremely rare video

With four-inch canines and a jaw capable of generating 4,450 newtons of force, lion bites are something most animals want to avoid.
But pangolins are not most animals. Though these creatures weigh no more than 10 pounds, they are covered from head to tail in a natural armor—a network of overlapping scales made of a tough protein called keratin.
When a large predator comes calling, a pangolin need not run or try to fight back. All it has to do is curl up into a tiny, impenetrable ball.
And this is exactly what a guide with Safari Live witnessed earlier this month during a nighttime drive through Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. (See our favorite lion videos.)
“When curled, there really is nowhere that the lions can get purchase with their teeth,” says Tristan Dicks, who discovered the duo with a spotlight. “That, coupled with the rain that night, made the surface far too slippery for the lions to actually do any damage.”
While this particular lion gave up after rolling the Temminck's ground pangolin around for a while with its paws, Dicks says the predators have been known to get the better of their prey on occasion. Pangolin pups, whose scales have not yet hardened, are especially vulnerable.

A rare encounter
Dicks has been a professional guide for a decade and says he’s only seen pangolins in the wild eight times. And an interaction between a lion and a pangolin? No one sees that. 

“That coupled with a pride of lions in the Mara is a once in a lifetime sighting,” he says.
Pangolins are especially hard to see in part because their populations are naturally low, notes Dan Challender, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Pangolin Specialist Group.
Due to this rarity, Challender says it’s unknown how frequently lions and pangolins interact. However there is evidence that Asiatic lions will sometimes try to prey upon Indian pangolins in Gir National Park, India. (Read how Indian pangolins are dwindling due to poaching.)

Three contractual workers run over by train on rail track in Maharashtra

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 14 January 2019, 11:34 AM
In a horrific incident, three contractual labours working on the railway tracks were killed after being run over by the Mumbai-bound Tejas Express in Maharashtra’s Raigad district on Sunday, a police official said on Monday. The incident took place around 9.30 pm when the victims were working on tracks near the Jite railway station in the Pen area of Raigad, located around 66 km from Mumbai, he said. While the workers were crossing the track, they apparently did not see the approaching train and were hit by it, he said, adding that all the three men sustained head injuries and died on the spot. “The workers are from Madhya Pradesh and were staying nearby. Two of them fell on side of the track after being hit by the train while the third fell on the other side,” an official said.
The deceased were identified as 30-year-old Ashok Bari, 40-year-old Nimsingh Gulkar and 18-year-old Ajay Dandodiya, all belonging to Madhya Pradesh, the railway official said. The bodies were sent to a state-run hospital for a post-mortem examination, and an accidental death report was registered at the Dadar Sagari police station in Raigad, the official said. A Panvel railway station official said as quoted by TOI, “The CR general manager’s visit is scheduled in the next two weeks. Hence the works are being done at Panvel and other railway stations. However, it is surprising how workers were working at night on the tracks."
Read More | Maharashtra: 3 dead, 1 injured after motorcycle collided with SUV in Parbhani
Tejas Express is a fully air-conditioned train which runs between Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Karmali station in Goa.
In a similar incident in December last year, three lions died after they were hit by a goods train near the Gir forest in Gujarat’s Amreli district, around 250 km from Ahmedabad, an official had said. The incident had occurred near the Borala village in Savarkundla taluka when a pride of six lions was walking along the railway track passing from the village, which is located near the Gir Forest.
“A goods train, headed to Pipavav port from Botad, hit three of six lions of the pride during midnight, which led to the death of two lions and a lioness”, Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh wildlife circle, DT Vasavada had told PTI.

WATCH: Four Gigantic Lions Halt Traffic At Kruger National Park

Written By Aishwaria Sonavane | Mumbai | Published:
A video going viral on social media featured an eccentric traffic jam in Kruger Park, South Africa. Cars slowed down in the soft drizzle, making way for four gigantic African lions to walk right in the middle of the road. 
First shared on Facebook, the video is now making rounds of social media with people expressing their surprise at this grand sight.
The male big cats weighing upto 225kg walked invulnerable to fear, in all their glory and with no ounce of botheration by humans or their cars. Cars could be seen pacing down their speed or stopping completely for the pride to pass.
Kruger National Park in South Africa has a lion census of approximately 1600.
This is not the first time that people around Kruger National Park have witnessed an extraordinary site. But the wildlife here has never failed to amuse. A video surfaced last year on Twitter where pride of lion hunted an African buffalo, tore the prey apart on the road, fed on it and then one of the lions came to rest against the cars waiting to watch the episode.

Trains in India crushing elephants and tigers as officials look the other way

Carcass of an elephant after it was hit by a train near Guwahati on November 19, 2017. (Reuters)

Tigers, lions and elephants are being mowed down by high speed trains in India with alarming regularity outraging animal rights activists but the federal or state governments don’t bat an eyelid.
Last month, three lions were run over by a goods train in at Borala in Gujarat’s famed Gir forest. Fences were erected on either side of rail tracks in Rajula-Savarkundla region of the western state after six lions were crushed to death in 2014-2015 preventing more tragedies. But the tracks are not fenced in Borala. Official reason: “Too costly”.
Last month, two tiger cubs were mowed down by a train in the Chichpalli forest of Maharashtra. A spate of protests on social media did not elicit even a flicker of response from callous railway officials or forest wardens tasked with protecting endangered wildlife.
And when it comes to elephant deaths on rail tracks, India holds the world record! Government statistics show that 150 jumbos were run over by trains between 1987 and 2010. But in just eight years, from 2010 to 2017, the toll rose to 120.
In 2018, trains crushed as many as 20 elephants to death in their habitats, signaling a new low. Ordinary citizens are horrified by blood-spattered television images of jumbos mowed down by trains hurtling thorough forests in the dead of night.
Footage of cranes removing elephantine carcasses from tragedy sites is heart-wrenching. But the outrage and sadness hasn’t jolted officials out of their stupor. Ironically, elephant is the mascot of Indian Railways. But they are still falling prey to more and faster trains running through elephant habitats in several states.

Queen of elephants

Parbati Barua is a wildlife conservationist and the subject of a BBC documentary Queen of the Elephants. She told Al Arabiya English that while “human life is precious, it is even more important to save majestic animals like elephants, tigers and lions because they are becoming extinct even as human population is steadily growing.”
“As a conservationist, I firmly believe that shielding dwindling wildlife from attacks by man is more important than saving man from animals. In the so-called man-animal conflict, I am for animals.”
The federal and state administrations are unmoved but scientists clearly are more compassionate and doing whatever they can to help endangered animals survive in the face of adversity.
Experiments are underway with an electronic device which replicates the sound of angry bees. Elephants are known to be so terrified of the sound of buzzing that they take to their heels. Playing the recording will keep jumbos away from railway tracks which have turned into death traps.
Another device driven by a set of four sensors – the brainchild of a professor at New Delhi’s Institute of Technology (IIT) - will alert train drivers in the near future about the movement of elephants along the tracks. The countdown for the implementation of these innovative gadgets has begun.
Last Update: Friday, 11 January 2019 KSA 10:26 - GMT 07:26

‘India has successfully conserved 73 endangered species’

| Updated: Jan 8, 2019, 09:58 IST
MYSURU: Highlighting India’s stellar record in the conservation of endangered species of animals, member-secretary of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), New Delhi Anup Kumar Nayak on Monday said, “India has been trying its best in the conservation of 73 endangered species and has been successful in conserving mouse-deer.”
Anup, who inaugurated the three-day national-level workshop for veterinarians at Indian zoos, pointed to the difficulties involved in conserving species classified as endangered and critically endangered. “These are lengthy processes. Many different zoos and rehabilitation centres across India are involved in this initiative. The objective is to breed animals in these categories in captivity, and releasing them into the wild since their population is declining at a rapid rate,” said Nayak.

Adducing the the success that the Nandankanan Zoo in Odisha and Hyderabad Zoo had tasted in conservation of gharial and mouse-deer respectively, Nayak said, “Unfortunately, gharial could not survive in the wild, but mouse-deer did.”

In Karnataka, as many as six species including Indian Gaur, deer, wild dog, wolves, and lion-tailed macaque are being conserved and being bred at the off-display centre. “CZA is yet to decide on when to release them into the wild,” Nayak added.

Meanwhile, the endangered chinkara is being bred at the Sakkabaug Zoo in Gujarat, while efforts to increase the population of snow leopard at Darjeeling Zoo and Golden Langur at Agartala Zoo.

‘Veterinarians determine status of zoos’

Meanwhile, highlighting the role of veterinarians to zoos, Nayak said that the prestige of a zoo was contingent on the quality of its veterinarians. “As long as veterinarians take good care of the animals, the status of the zoo will never diminish. The role of the veterinarians in zoos is crucial since they have to ensure that animals exhibited are hale and hearty,” he said.

Pointing to CZA’s exemplary record in supervising zoos in the country, he added, “If zoological institutions are found not to be meeting the prescribed standards, licences are terminated immediately. Recently, we suspended many such permits and some were renewed with added stipulations.”

Vice-chancellor of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries University HD Narayana Swamy said that challenges confronting veterinarians in maintaining the health of animals had increased significantly in recent times following outbreaks of viruses. “Recently, there was an outbreak of the Distemper Virus that claimed the lives of lions at Gir Forest in Gujarat. Other diseases such as bird flu and Nipah virus too are equally challenging,” he said.

Member secretary of the Zoo Authority of Karnataka BP Ravi, meanwhile, sought to focus on the increasing incidence of human-animal conflict. “This is largely a consequence of shrinking forest cover. Forest land is being chipped away at for other activities including mining,” said Ravi.

The executive director of Mysuru Zoo Ajith Kulkarni was among those present.

‘Wild’ topics on the anvil today

*Chemical immobilization of large herbivores: giraffe, zebra, rhinoceros, hippopotamus and elephants
*Advancements in captive wild canine and feline anaesthesia
*Bird flu in Indian zoos and counteracting strategies
*Visual and physical evaluation of wild animals: A primary tool to diagnose diseases

Rabies threatens our lion

Rabies threatens our lion

Progressive control pathways and procedures for international certification of rabies-free status should be established to save our wild cats from the madness syndrome
If you thought that rabies concerned only dogs, then one must look back to the records at the King Edward Memorial Pasteur Institute and Medical Research Institute, Shillong. It had published a scientific article in 1950 recording two instances of a positive microscopic finding in the brain — evidence of rabies — of the Bengal tiger in Assam, the first in 1943 and the second in 1950. In the first case, the tiger severely mauled 18 people in just over 24 hours before it was killed but made no attempt to eat any of the victims. In the second case, the tiger terrorised the inhabitants of five or six villages and attacked 14 people, at least five heads of cattle and a dog, of whom one person and the dog were killed on the spot and two others died in hospital the following day. Subsequently, the animal was killed.
The rabies virus was found in both cases. And though these two cases were examined following complaints of unseemly behaviour, several others were ignored. A few cases of leopards dying ostensibly due to rabies were also reported in south India during the British period. The rabies-inflicted stray dogs, living on the boundaries of Kruger National Park in South Africa and other reserves, are threats to predators such as lions, leopards, hyena and wild dogs. Perhaps deaths of predators by rabies do not get the exposure they deserve. The veterinary advisor for the Siberian Tiger recommended the vaccination protocol for use in all wild tigers to save them from viral disease.
Four years ago, a similar behaviour was observed in two lions — first was a male lion in Girnar on May 31, 2011, and the second was a young lioness in the Khamba range of the Gir forest on December 15, 2015. In both cases, the frenzied felines chased people and attacked a few of them, including the forest staff. The injured people were vaccinated and saved but both lions died within a few days. Symptoms like biting of tyres and frequent roaring in the daytime indicated the presence of rabies but cases were never examined to know the truth. The extent of damage by the fatal Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) attack, ostensibly a mutation or aggravation caused by the rabies virus, was taken seriously only when 23 lions died in September 2018 in the Gir forests.
In the past, deaths of the lion by virus attacks were detected but ignored because the number was not high. Unlike the lion, tigers or leopards  do not live in groups. Thus, death of one or two of them at a site by the fatal disease was ignored. It was recorded as a natural disease but facts prove otherwise. Almost every other day, news reports cite the recovery of dead leopards, tigers, lions and several other carnivores from their habitats but the cases have never been examined by virologists to confirm the cause of deaths.
In a study, four concomitant incidents of rabies related deaths were recorded in Gujarat during 2012-2014. Brain samples were collected from two buffaloes, nilgai and mongoose and rabies virus was found in all of them. Further, the genetic relationship of these isolated specimens was determined and the rabies virus transmission among the wild and domestic mammals was established. In Deva village in Allahabad district, two cows and a young buffalo cub were bitten by a rabies-infected dog. All died within two weeks. Finally, the dog was killed and the carcass was disposed off in a remote area of the village. What had happened to carnivores such as jackals and foxes, which consumed the carcass, is not known but the villagers confirmed that the carnivores had not been spotted. Why is it that the jackals are fast disappearing from the villages? Why are the hyenas becoming rare in the countryside? Why is it that the population of the wild dog (dhole) declined drastically in its habitats such as the Satpura Tiger Reserve and then recovered in a few years and again declined drastically? Is it due to the spread of rabies or any other virus? Has rabies’ presence in the domestic dog caused the loss of wildlife in an unbelievable scale? Perhaps yes. Casualties of the major wild carnivores in India due to transmission of rabies,  CDV, FIV or other viruses are high but it is impossible to provide facts about the scale of the crisis. After the lion deaths due to a CDV attack in the Gir forests, investigations indicated that like the African lions, the CDV and other viruses are present in some wild lions in the Gir forest. All of these become fatal when other diseases such as Babesia protozoa are transmitted from an unhealthy prey.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease which occurs in more than 150 countries. Dogs are the source of a vast majority of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99 per cent of all rabies transmissions to humans. Human deaths due to rabies are known and have been well-documented but it is also primarily a disease of terrestrial mammals, including dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals, big cats (lions, leopards and tigers), mongooses, badgers, bats  and monkeys. Rabies is endemic to India and accounts for 36 per cent of the world’s human deaths due to this disease. The true burden of rabies in our country is not fully known; although as per a WHO report, it causes 18,000-20,000 deaths every year. Nobody knows how many wild carnivores die due to this disease. India had over 19.1 million domestic dogs in 2007 and a majority of them belonged to the category of feral or stray dogs. A substantial number of this forms the prey base for carnivores, especially for leopards, tigers, lions, hyenas, wolves and jackals.
In India, dogs play an important role in rabies transmission to wildlife.  However, little is known about the role of wild animals in rabies transmission. As per a study in the US, the rabies disease unexpectedly re-emerged in wildlife. Rabies is a viral zoonosis associated with many species of carnivores, including cats, jackal, hyena and bats, which are the primary hosts of the Rabies virus. Although sporadic cases of rabies in wildlife have been documented across the African continent, convincing evidence for the circulation of rabies in populations of wild carnivores has been found only in south Africa, where wild canids, such as jackals and bat-eared foxes, are assumed to be primary hosts of the virus. Although wolves, wild dogs, jackals and foxes are susceptible and readily succumb to the disease, they can disseminate the disease in other wildlife.
The carnivores — lion, tiger, leopard, hyena, wolf, and  jackal — are susceptible to diseases as they largely prey upon domestic animals, including dogs and pigs which are a carrier of pathogens. Domestic livestock, including dogs, constitute major food for these wild animals. Cases of tiger and leopard deaths are reported from time-to-time, but the institute engaged in the field of wildlife research does  not give priority to such an important problem. In the absence of adequate studies, it is difficult to assess deaths of wild carnivores due to rabies but it seems a major hurdle,  although not accepted till date of wildlife conservation in India.
To eliminate rabies in wildlife, ‘progressive control pathways’ and procedures for international certification of rabies-free status should be established. To achieve this, wildlife managers should know the extent of the problem. The sample of every dead animal should be examined scientifically in institutes that deal with wildlife or virology. Institutes, too, need to focus on the scale of natural deaths rather than just concern themselves with environment impact assessment (EIA). It has taken us long to maintain a healthy population of the big cat. Let us not lose them to another threat.
(The writer is Member, National Board for Wild life)

Guj: Lioness drowns in open well in Gir forest

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 
A lioness drowned in an open well in in Gujarat's district, 400 kilometres from here, Forest department officials said Tuesday.
The incident took place in Pandva village, around 40 kilometres away from the outer limits of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, in Veraval taluka and the carcass of the lioness was retrieved Tuesday and sent for post mortem, said Deputy of
Berwal said the bloated condition of the carcass suggests it may have fallen into the well a day prior.
He ruled out foul play and said it was possible that the lioness fell into the open well while chasing prey.
"Since the lioness tried to stay afloat, which was evident from her brushed nails, we can say that it was not killed and then thrown into the well. It appears to be an accident, not foul play," said Berwal.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Man accused in lion baiting case refused bail by Gujarat High Court

dna Correspondent  Updated: Jan 10, 2019, 05:45 AM IST

The Gujarat high court has rejected the bail application of Elyasbhai Hoth, who is accused of baiting lions in the Gir sanctuary. Hoth, a settler was arrested under various provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 after videos of him baiting lions with poultry went viral. The matter came to the high court after his bail was rejected by the trial court.
The court while rejecting the application said that after the charge-sheet is filed, the punishment prescribed under the law is of seven years, the court is required to consider the request of regular bail.
It also said that the accused had sought bail seeking parity with the co-accused in the case who had already been given bail. There were not only oral evidence but electronic evidence against the accused.
The counsel for the applicant had sought bails on the ground that since the trial in the case was not likely to be over in the matter soon he should be granted bail. He further argued that there were many others who had indulged in similar activity but no action was taken against them.
Opposing the application, the state argued that Asiatic lions were protected species under the Schedule I of the Wildlife Act and Hoth was the kingpin in the case. The others who had been bailed out had very limited role to play in the incident.
The state argued that Hoth had been indulging in such things for quite some time as he had been allotted land near the sanctuary under Tribal Settlement Act had he missed this. They also argued that video recording evidence of the act was also available.
It said apart from baiting the animals, the video recordings also show the presence of liquor bottles and other prohibited items which are completely banned in the Gir Sanctuary.

Look before you book: This app helps you spot tigers during safari tours

With the ever increasing love of travel and adventure, more and more Indians are now opting for vacations in and outside the country. While some choose locations to relax and take a break from their fast lives, others want to see new things, meet new people, and try different cuisines. There’s another lot, the ones who have an unquenching thirst for adventure.
No matter the kind of vacation you are looking for, coming back with some memorable photographs is a must in every case. But when it comes to wildlife safaris, people enter the forest reserves with high hopes of spotting a tiger or a leopard, but often leave with disappointing having seen none. Many call it luck, while others don’t go on safari tours in the right time for spotting a big cat.
Solving this problem is WildTrails, a smartphone application which gives details of sightings of all species (not just tigers), across most of the top national parks and reserves in India.
This app gives complete details of sightings of all species through data mining. After data analytics on these sightings they come up with a Sighting Index metric which can predict well on what the chances are of sighting a particular species in a given sanctuary for a given zone during a given time period. This process will greatly enhance one’s sighting probability. The app also reveals where and how recently big cats were spotted in various parks in India.
Manjunath Gowda, the CEO of WildTrails, says, “The number of people interested in wildlife tours looking for big cats has increased drastically over the last few months. More so for the tiger and the black panther and of course, most want to know which is the right sanctuary to visit and how are the sightings in those respective parks. WildTrails wildlife holiday app fulfills this customer need by analysing sightings data that is gathered every day. We end up calculating the Sighting Index (R) of a given species over a given period of time which gives a good sense of which park, which zone to go to while looking for these big cats. Of course, we also book the right trips using this data.”
While most Indians know that the Bengal tiger is the national animal of India what is less well known is that besides the Bengal tiger, India is also home to a number of other species of big cats — Asiatic lion, Indian leopard, snow leopard, and the Clouded leopard and some more. However, these five species of big cats are relatively easy to see in the 50 tiger reserves in India, yet many in India have gone on several wildlife safaris without seeing even one big cat.
The most elusive big cats are snow leopards and clouded leopards. While snow Leopards can be seen in the Himalayan mountains, specifically in Ladakh and Dachigam in Kashmir, to spot a clouded leopard one must visit the forests of the northeast such as Manas and Buxa. Despite the remoteness of these regions, the Wildtrails app claims to be a helpful companion that can increase the likelihood of seeing these most elusive of big cats.
“If the sightings of the wild animals is made sure, then of course it will be easier for a photographer to shoot pictures. Photographers wait days and nights to capture a perfect shot, it will also save money. But, however, it’ll also take away the thrill and anticipation from wildlife photography,” opines Ujjal Debnath, a professional photographer, upon about the application.
Those with the knowledge of wildlife have said that for every big cat a person sees, 10 big cats see the person without being spotted!

Motherhood Strikes- This Lioness In Gir Forest Added A Leopard Cub To Her Family!

Priyanshi Mathur
Updated: Jan 04, 2019, 12:47 PM IST

Lions and leopards aren't exactly best of friends. They often fight over food and territory often killing or severely injuring each other.
So, it was quite shocking for the forest officials to know that a lioness, Raksha was nursing a 2-month-old leopard cub named as Mowgli, in Gir Forest. It is not clear how the lioness came across the cub or where the mother of the leopard baby is.

Usually, if a lion or a lioness finds a leopard or leopard cubs, they instantly kill them. But, for this lioness, motherly instinct seems to have overtaken the killer instinct because she adopted the baby into her clan.   
After observing the behaviour of the lioness, the foresters started sharing pictures and videos of the lioness feeding and nurturing the cub.
Interestingly, the lioness is extra protective about the cub, Deputy Conservator of Forests Dheeraj Mittal said.
"Since the leopard is smaller than her cubs, she ensures it walks ahead. She stops and waits for it to come closer to her when moving around or if they are near a water body," he added.

The lion family has also accepted the leopard baby, the lion cubs are quite fond of their younger brother. Foresters said, "This arrangement is extremely unusual. So, we have decided to observe the dynamics without intervening in any way."

Unusual Bonding As Gir Lioness Adopts A Leopard Cub Separated From Mother In A Rare Phenomenon

Unusual Bonding As Gir Lioness Adopts A Leopard Cub Separated From Mother In A Rare Phenomenon
Updated: Jan 06, 2019, 12:55 PM IST

A lioness in Gujarat’s Gir Forest has adopted a one-and-half-month old leopard cub who has been separated from his mother. The Gujarat forest officials are claiming this to be a "rare phenomenon".
The lioness is looking well after the cub and is also protecting him from other lions who might try to kill him.
“Along with two of its own cubs, the lioness, spotted in the forests of Gir-West division, is feeding the leopard cub,” says a report by PTI.

Unusual Bonding As Gir Lioness Adopts A Leopard Cub Separated From Mother In A Rare Phenomenon
The forest staff spotted the lioness with the leopard cub some six days ago.
"It is indeed a rare phenomenon, as lions tend to kill leopards. In this case, it is quite opposite to what we know about big cats. The lioness is taking extra care of a leopard cub. The lioness is even protecting it from lions present in the area," Deputy Conservator of Forest, Gir-West division Dheeraj Mittal told PTI.

Video Of A Cow Feeding Four Orphaned Puppies Is The Best Thing You Can Watch This Weekend

Cow Maa
Updated: Jan 05, 2019, 12:44 PM IST
There are a few heart winning images that make your weekend perfect. A video of a cow feeding four orphaned puppies is being shared widely and calming the senses of the people.
The short video was recorded by the bystander who couldn’t help capturing the emotional sight before him. A couple of days, the news of a lioness adopting leopard cub had touched our hearts.
According to some accounts, the mother of the puppies might have died after giving birth and the four puppies were adopted by the cow who is seen feeding them.
The video was an instant hit on  social media. Similar videos had surfaced recently on the internet where a pet dog and cat were seen showering each other with love. The video on twitter had won many hearts. The two species aren’t known to be best of friends, but this was quite unique and the six-second video shows dog Maggie gently petting cat whose name is Pumpkin on her back.

Kuno National Park

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Kuno National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Map showing the location of Kuno National Park
Map showing the location of Kuno National Park
Location of Kuno National Park
LocationMadhya Pradesh, India
Coordinates25°30′00″N 77°26′00″ECoordinates: 25°30′00″N 77°26′00″E
Area748.76 km2 (289.10 sq mi)
Kuno National Park is a protected area in Madhya Pradesh that received the status of national park in 2018.[1] The protected area was established in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary with an area of 344.686 km2 (133.084 sq mi) in the Sheopur and Morena districts. It was also known as Kuno-Palpur and Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary.[2] It is part of the Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.[3]
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Jaipur: Lion Safari at Nahargarh Biological Park visited by record number of tourists in Dec

More than 8500 tourists came to see the Asiatic lion’s family including two lions and one lioness at the park over the last three months.
January 3, 2019 4:30 pm
Jaipur: Lion Safari at Nahargarh Biological Park visited by record number of tourists in Dec
Lion at Nahargarh Biological park of Jaipur.
Jaipur: Lion safari at Nahargarh Biological Park in Jaipur recorded the highest number of tourists in December last year.
More than 8500 tourists came to see the Asiatic lion’s family including two lions and one lioness at the park over the last three months.
The Lion Safari at Nahargarh Biological Park started on October 3, 2018. A total of 1548 tourists visited the park in October followed by 2770 in November and 4475 in December.
Meanwhile, the biological park saw a rapid increase in the number of tourists from December 21 to December 31, 2018. Around 459 tourists visited the park during the last 10 days of 2018.
According to a senior park official, around 52360 tourists visited the park in the 2017 and a total of 57919 tourists visited the park in 2018. As compared to 2017, the number of tourists visiting Nahargarh Biological Park increased by 5559 last year.
The officials said that the reason for this increase could be the introduction of Lion Safari project.
According to the ACF of Nahargarh biological park Jagdeesh Gupta, the park’s popularity has increased among local as well as foreign tourists.
First published: January 3, 2019
Rimjhim Jethani |

Prague zoo hopes rare lion insemination sows seed for survival

January 3, 2019
An Asiatic lioness at the Prague zoo underwent artificial insemination in the zoo's latest attempt to breed the lions since 2015
After two suitors failed to get a rare Asiatic lioness pregnant, Prague zoo now hopes that artificial insemination will finally plant the seed for her species' survival.
"Ginni, our female Asiatic from Gujarat in India, underwent on Wednesday evening," the zoo said in a statement on Thursday.
With some 600 Asiatic lions living in Gujarat and another 143 in European facilities, zoo director Miroslav Bobek said he held "great hope" in Prague's Asiatic lions to preserve the dwindling species on a global scale.
The zoo has been attempting to breed its three Asiatic lions from India since they arrived in 2015, so far with no success.
Female Suchi proved to be sterile while Ginni repeatedly snubbed her nose at Jamvan, a male who zookeepers say was too passive.
Sohan, another male borrowed from a zoo in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, also failed to get Ginni pregnant but did manage to trigger ovulation.
In the end, zookeepers opted to use Jamvan's sperm to inseminate Ginni during Wednesday's procedure, which, if successful, should see cubs born in about four months.
The procedure was carried out by a team from the Berlin-based Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and Prague zoo vets.
They pegged the probability of success at 60-70 percent.
Last autumn, authorities in Gujarat reported dozens of dead Asiatic lions, killed by the canine distemper virus and a parasitic infection caused by ticks.